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Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God
March 24th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

A new survey conducted on the heels of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami finds that few Americans think natural disasters are signs from God and that even fewer believe God punishes nations for the sins of its citizens, as some suggested after the Japanese disaster.

At the same time, most Americans believe God is responsible for everything that happens in the world, according to the survey, which was released Thursday.

The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service.

Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (38%) believe that earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are a sign from God, while roughly 3 in 10 believe that God sometimes punishes nations for the sins of some citizens, according to the survey.

Shortly after the Japanese quake and tsunami, the governor of Tokyo said publicly that the disaster was divine punishment for Japanese egoism, though he apologized for the remarks a day later.

A majority of people who self-identified as white evangelical Christians bucked the consensus against God punishing nations for the sins of its citizens, with 53% saying they believed that to be true.

Even more white evangelicals, 59%, believe that natural disasters are a sign from God, while only about one-third of Catholics and white mainline Protestants share that view.

Two thirds of white evangelicals also believe that natural disasters are evidence of the "end times," according to the survey.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 1,008 adults in the continental United States between March 17-20 as news was pouring in from the hardest-hit areas in Japan.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Read how prominent voices with different views on religion make sense of the suffering in Japan

Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world, according to the poll.

And 7 in 10 Americans believe God is a person with whom a person can have a relationship, according to the poll.

But most Americans, 58%, said they attributed the increased severity of natural disasters to global warming, while 44% said they attribute it to what the Bible sometimes refers to as the “end times.”

The respondents tended to split along party lines - 52% of Republicans said the increased severity could be attributed to "end times” prophesies, while 75% of Democrats said it was the result of global warming.

“These kind of questions about God being in control and there simultaneously being suffering are the kind of things that keep seminarians up at night. They’re thorny theological issues. We wanted to see if we could get at it with polling to see what Americans think,” pollster Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, told CNN.

“We asked people how many were following what was going on in Japan, and nine out of 10 said they had heard a lot. This is something very clearly on the minds of Americans as they answered this poll.”

Jones said that where respondents worship played a big role in how they answered the questions.

“One thing that may be underlying this is how one approaches the Bible. Evangelical white Protestants are much more likely to take a literal approach to the Bible. In the Bible, natural disasters are used as a sign or as a punishment from God. Mainline Protestants and Catholics have a much less literal view of the bible,” Jones said.

Regardless of which pew American Christians find themselves in during the weekend, their beliefs about God’s role in matters like this are something Jones says brings a lot of debate.

Ryan Coyne, a philosopher of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, said, “What’s interesting is the disparity ... [between] the belief that God or the divine controls actions in the world and the reluctance on the part of some to attribute some acts in the world as punishing acts.

“There’s a reluctance to think of God as a punishing god. One must look for other explanations for evil in general if one is reluctant to attribute natural disasters to the divine,” Coyne said.

“Just by virtue of calling it a ‘natural disaster’ we’re asking is this ... outside of the reach of the divine,” Coyne said. “Five hundred to 600 years ago, there wouldn’t be the assumption necessarily ... [that] something like this was not directed by divine will.”

Regardless of the cause of natural disasters, the survey found that an overwhelming number of respondents - 83% - said it was very important or somewhat important to give financial assistance to Japan despite economic troubles in the United States.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture & Science • Protestant • United States

soundoff (976 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    Too bad they blame god....if they blamed elves then their psychosis would get proper treatment.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  2. scotism

    I wonder what people in primarily non-Christian counties like China and Indonesia that outnumber America by population, think about non-Christians projecting minority beliefs on their countries, their issues, their disasters and their religious beliefs. Whose fairy tale is the right one anyway? All religions can potentially lead to the truth, as all spokes in a wheel can lead to the hub. Too bad most people don't know the path to the truth because they have been led down blind allies by putting their faith in charlatans with low self esteem that need to convince themselves they are right by trying to convince others they are right. Natural disasters have been happening for hundreds of millions of year before we showed up and will continue long after we are gone.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  3. babylonwillfall

    babylon it dont matter I AM AMEN WEEE ARE THY REGULATORS AND WE ARE CLEANING HOUSE!!! AMEN SAYSSS SOOO BOOOHOOHAHAHABOOHAHAH 777 GATES AWAITS FOR THY TRAITORS PINCHES HOTOS CULEROS ORALE CULERITOS A QUI Y ESTA DIOS satan is panocha y supriem rockefeller abomination es panocha thule socety remember I WILL CAST ALL UNBELIEVERS TO HELL SOOON WE ARE HERRE TICK TOCK TICK TOCK AMEN THY 777 AWAITS nibiru pathetic garbage is lunch all traitors of thee republic of SIRIUS WILL BE JUDGED WITH NO MERCYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

    March 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  4. EMERSE

    Thats because the 38% of us use our brains and not try to make everything out to be the end of the world. A few earthquakes, tsunami's, falling birds, dead fish, war, and a little change in weather and we all start running for the hills! Or church for that matter. Settle down people, it is not the end. This crap has been going on for millions of years and it will continue! As far as nature goes, I don't think we have seen anything yet.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  5. purnellmeagrejr

    The fact that few Americans see natural disasters as a sign from God is a sign from God that the end is near. Repent. Repent, I say. REPENT!!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Corey

      If there is a heaven and it means spending eternity with the likes of you. Well you can count me out. I'll be chill-in in hell enjoying the sinful (pleasurable) things in life.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  6. Eli

    For those who doubt there is a God, look no further than the history of the Jewish People, God's chosen people and you will easily find proof that God exists. Now I know this might upset some people but there is no need to get excited, God works his wonders through the Jewish People weather for good or for bad. No Nation has been in exile twice and returned to there homeland exactly as the bible predicted with plenty of miracles to back it up. A Desert was turned into an Orchid when the Jews returned to Israel, it stared to rain again in Israel. Read Mark Twains Diary on what he witnessed in Israel before the Jews returned, he claim it was a barren desert swamp and not even a cactus in sight, it was uninhabitable and dry, with no rain or soil. God is real, study the history of the Jews and you will find God.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • purnellmeagrejr

      The Jews aren't God's chosen people. Professional athletes are.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Ed

      How silly.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      There is on proof that god is real, and looking at history or stories isn't real proof. All we ask is for real proof that god is real. So, go ahead, any proof god is real using any criteria we have proven anything else is real in human history. 123 go.

      March 26, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  7. Eli

    For those who doubt there is a God, look o further than the history of the Jewish People, God chosen people and you will easily find proof that God exists. Now I know this might upset some people but there is no need to get excited, God works his wonders through the Jewish People weather for good or for bad. No Nation has been in exile twice and returned to there homeland exactly as the bible predicted with plenty of miracles to back it up. A Desert was turned into an Orchid when the Jews returned to Israel, it stared to rain again in Israel. Read Mark Twains Diary on what he witnessed in Israel before the Jews returned, he claim it was a barren desert swamp and not even a cactus in sight, it was uninhabitable and dry, with no rain or soil. God is real, study the history of the Jews and you will find God.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  8. Carm316

    God does not make bad things happen. Earthquakes, storms, etc. are caused by nature; wars are caused by people. People are given free will ...some of us make good choices, some bad choices. God does not cause accidents ... it's the law of physics. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son and those that believe will not perish but have everlasting life" (John:3:16). One of the most important scriptures in the Bible. Very simple.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • OkToGo77

      This sums it up wonderfully!

      March 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  9. Seattle

    God is nothing more then the simplistic answer for everything that is deemed too complicated for simplistic people to understand.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Really?

      No one loves you.

      No one hates you.

      Am I right or wrong and prove it to me. Should be simple enough for an intelligent person like you.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Lisa

      Wow, are you cruel. Hopefully everyone has someone in their life that loves them, a mother, a father, a sister, a brother a friend, a lover. You need to see counseling.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Lisa- you miss the point. One has to have faith that someone loves or hates them. Know one can prove it. Just like a faith in God.

      I am not being cruel, I am pointing out a different way to look at something. I ceetainly hope and believe someone loves "Seattle" out there. But I cannot prove it no more than I can prove God exists. But love and God both do exist.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Hank

      Just because you are pointing out a different way of looking at something does not mean it is correct. It also does not justify you getting your kicks by being insolent to others because of your own insecurities.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Hank- What insecurities? I think you are reaching there. A sign of a desparate debater.

      "Insolent"? The devil you say! Lol. Is it insolent to treat ppl the way they treat others? If you noticed, which it seems you didn't (get that ego of yours out of the way), I have only responded to certain ppl in the manner they have acted. I am sorry you have such thin skin and can't handle it.

      March 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Seattle, that's is a wonderful statement, you summed it up perfectly.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      that is*

      Where's the edit button? 😉

      March 27, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  10. james

    In other news, 3 out of 10 Americans are idiots...

    Anyone who is just certain the world will end soon ought to give me all their stuff for safe keeping.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • babylonwillfall

      OH REALLY JAMES YOU DONT THINK IN AMEN?????HMMMMM BOOOHOOOHAAHAHAH

      March 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • babylonwillfall

      JAMES GOD IS REAL, SO DONT SAY HE DOESN T EXIST OR ELSE ILLKNOW I READ ALL MINDS CHANGE IS HERE SOON ALL WILL TASTE AND SMELL WHAT WE THY REGULATORS SEE EVERYDAY WITH NO BIG DEAL, BECAUSE HUMANS ARE mini GODS thy RIGHTOUES WILL PREVAIL 777 GATES AWAITS BOOHOOHAHAHAHAHAHAH

      March 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  11. AGeek

    38%. Thirty Freaking Eight percent. And these people are allowed to f–king vote?! It's absolutely NO wonder the US is in the clusterf–k it's currently in. How the hell do you battle ignorance on that scale?!

    March 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      You are allowed to vote aren't you? Even though you are exhibiting signs of irrational anger to a ppl you do not know on a polling you cannot confirm.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • AGeek

      Don't confuse incredulity and irrational anger. Past polls have indicated 44% of the US population thinks the planet is less than 10,000 years old. This seems to lend credence to the 38% result in this poll. I find such levels of ignorance to be abhorrent at best.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Erin

      "Even though you are exhibiting signs of irrational anger to a ppl you do not know" You should know right, you have shown anger at people leaving comments that you don't know.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Erin- you assume anger where there is none. Unless you are able to prove otherwise? That should be fun, to see you prove something that cannot be measured or scientifically expalined.

      @Ageek- but you haven't shown how such a belief actually hinders how this nation is operated. Seems that many non-religious types on here like to imply that faith hinders rational thinking on every subject. That is just false.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Yet you cannot prove your "god" exists, yet you poke fun at those that ask for proof. So you believe in something with no proof of it ever existing, why? because its written in a book put together by ignorant people 2000 years ago? That sounds pretty stupid. Ignorance is bliss.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Actually I do believe in something that has proof of it's existence. But you wouldn't accept that evidence since you are too small minded. I have asked you before to give the criteria that would be needed to prove God exists but you run away. Why do you do that?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Jeanine

      PwE – you said, "Seems that many non-religious types on here like to imply that faith hinders rational thinking on every subject. That is just false."

      Just another straw-man argument. You imply that people are implying these things, yet you have no actual knowledge of such a thing. You could simply be misunderstanding them and putting words in their mouths. Seems likely, doesn't it?

      March 26, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Jeanine

      And here I am, not running away, but you won't face my arguments or questions. Sounds like you are running away and hiding out of fear – you do not want your faith to be shaken for it is all you have.
      You have no proof and never will, I guess.

      I'm not "Aitot" as you call him/her, but I don't mind taking up the fight against your mental illness.
      Seek proof. Seek your god. Where is he? Or she? All in your head, nothing in your heart, nowhere to be found or proved to exist.
      Your faith must be shaky to avoid so diligently having to come up with any sort of proof.
      Here's more "criteria" for you:
      If your god is only spiritual and unable to affect anything in our physical universe, then have him appear in a "spiritual" manner to everyone or just me. I'm not picky.
      But the question would remain...if unable to affect our physical universe, then how did he create it in the first place or even affect your "spirit" if "spiritual" energy is never able to affect physical things?
      Your soul would be deaf and dumb, unable to let your brain know it exists, for your brain is physical.

      Or let's work with spiritual beings/souls being able to affect the physical universe – well then! We could demand physical proof of your spiritual being and rightly heap scorn upon you when no such proof is forthcoming.

      You can't have it both ways. Either your spiritual god can affect our physical universe or he can't. Either way, acquiring unfalsifiable / incontrovertible proof should be child's play for such a clever fellow like yourself, right?

      Pwned again. (sorry, I was bored, 🙂 )

      March 26, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      "Ethos with pathos
      Actually I do believe in something that has proof of it's existence. But you wouldn't accept that evidence since you are too small minded. I have asked you before to give the criteria that would be needed to prove God exists but you run away. Why do you do that?"

      What is your proof that god is real? I'm too "small minded"? Are you sure it is I that is small minded? I don't believe in santa, but you do. Why don't you just demonstrate your proof instead of argue and demean people?

      March 26, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Lycidas

      @Jeanine- Then tell us straight, do you think that ppl with a faith in God are unable to use rational thought?

      March 27, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Lycidas

      @Jeanine- Your criteria is a little weak in definition. God has already shown, and continues to show, you he exists spiritually. It's not anyone's fault that you are "slow" spiritually to perceive it.

      The universe exists, seems like physical proof enough for me. But you are of course welcome to your own views of course.

      Oh I love the pwned stuff. Just shows you are in the 20 something age and really know nothing of the world.

      March 27, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      It is not rational to believe in a make believe, man made, supernatural being, with no proof of it existing, and to use that to explain things you don't yet have answers to. It is a primitive need which more advanced human beings no longer need.

      So, with your excuse, there is no real proof god exists. Using that criteria, does Santa Clause exist too? yes? no? if not, why not? Prove that Santa does/doesn't exist.

      You are slow, mentally, and more primitive, believing in something without there ever being any proof of it existing.

      The universe exists? That's you proof god exists?

      Once upon a time, it was necessary to have a god to be able to answer all the mysteries in the world. Science has eroded this need by discovering explanations for much of what humanity did not know at the time of "jesus", who never actually existed, the story of jesus is the same story told in other religions, tweaked to fit christianity, it isn't real. Of course, one would expect anyone, who has devoted their life to religion, to find reasons to believe in supernatural beings but they simply no longer fit. So, rationalizing is required to make them fit. And the emphasis is on faith because faith is the only way it does fit. But faith is nothing more that the ability to fool yourself into believing in the unbelievable. But much like children eventually understand that they were fooled by their parents into believing in Santa Clause, humanity is slowly growing out of the childlike phase of believing in supernatural beings...

      March 27, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Lycidas

      I agree it's not rational to believe in things made up. But you have not yet shown that God is made up. Plz don't whine about proving the negative because I am not asking you to prove God does not exist. I am asking you to prove God is made up by man. Should be easy for you to find the originator of the religion, show that he created it out of nothing.

      You can do that right? Or are you putting hope with your assertions?

      "slow, mentally, and more primitive"

      Thank you for showing you are quite childish. Going back to insults, how unevolved of you. I use the term as you do, I know evolution has no goal or directive in the manner you try and fail to use it.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Magic

      Lycidas,

      You are asking for something [who thought up the first god] from pre-written history, so we just don't know. It's not like L. Ron Hubbard or Joseph Smith or even Mohammad, whose ideas we can doc.ument.

      I do know that today if someone, like Abraham, claimed that "God" spoke to him and told him to kill his son, he would be whisked off pronto to a mental insti.tution. And I hope that today we would see through Moses' magic tricks and agenda.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "so we just don't know"

      As many an atheist will agree with on here, not knowing something does not equal evidence right? Not knowing cannot be used as a crutch by atheists when they cannot support their own beliefs.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      "I don't know" is a perfectly fine and correct answer to many questions.

      Promoting an agenda based on mythology is nothing more than fraud.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @PraiseTheLard- So if someone said they didn't have available information to support their claim you would NOT hold it against them?

      March 28, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  12. tepeters

    Science is always exploring its way to discover. As I posted in an earlier reply-latest theories called Loop Quantum Gravity make the talk about the universecoming form nothing a moot point. The matehmatical model point to a the point of the Big Bang being the end point of a collapsing universe and from that end point this universe emerged as its starting point. The point being that the universe needs a creator is unnecessary because ti can be its own creator by being creativity itself.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  13. steve

    The movie "religious" by Maher proves nothing but sure tells the truth. Tell a redneck there isn't a god and he will show you that you are wrong by providing a birth certificate with his sisters name on it proving that she is his daughters mother. Alabama law 101...

    March 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      If you are going to try and be clever with your insults, at least get the name of the movie right.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Tara

      insult followed by an insult = Not a Christian, think about it.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      I have and if you knew you Bible better, you might known a few times where Jesus was quite insulting to those that deserve it. Think about it.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Jesus didn't exist, its just a story. If you are religious, you are stupid.

      Stories similar/identical to the story of jesus.

      Alexandria: Aion
      Asia Minor: Attis
      Babylonia: Antiochus
      Egypt: Osiris and Horus
      Greece: Dionysus and Asclepius
      Syria: Adonis
      Italy: Bacchus Persia: Mithras

      The reason why all these narratives are so similar, with a godman who are born to virgins, who were born in caves or mangers, who were visited by 3 wise men, who lives were threatened by evil rulers, who had to flee for his life, who was at 12 noon in the house or temple of the "Most High" thereby beginning "his Father's work" at "age" 12, who begins their ministry at the age of 30, who was tempted by a Devil, who has 12 followers or disciples, who later sends out the 72 disciples, who walked on water, who raised the dead, who does miracles, who was crowned with thorns, who was crucified and resurrected after 3 days, who descended into hell for these 3 days, who rose again after 3 days, who ascended into Heaven, is that these stories were based on the movements of the sun through the heavens, an astrotheological development that can be found throughout the planet because the sun and the 12 zodiac signs can be observed around the globe. This same story is repeated down through history over and over again in almost every sun worshipping nation under "the Sun".

      Do your research before you so blindly believe your religious beliefs, whatever that may be.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Wow, more copy/pasting. Good going with that evolved mind of yours. Too bad a monkey can learn to copy/paste. Are you feeling proud about what you have acheived on here? Talking about atheist stuff on a thread that has nothing to do with atheists. Are you daft?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      You really should look into those stories and see how they are the same as the story of jesus, then ask yourself why they are all the same, then ask yourself what the likelyhood is that the story of jesus is not real also. Be open minded eh? Yes I copied and pasted, woohoo.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • Lycidas

      I am very much familiar with all the examles you gave. The problem is that you show no connection to any of them and Jesus. Unless your feelings on this subject count as fact? If that would be the case I am sure there are many believers who would want to talk with you about their facts.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  14. mantaec

    The prayer drop box is there there at the top of the page. And it says guaranteed results! Does it cost money to drop my prayer off? If that guy is making bucks, I want a piece of the action...I am American and that is the way. If the results are guaranteed and working, then we have lots of crazy people in the world that are praying for destruction.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  15. Pam

    If there is some kind of god (I actually hope there is!) I can't believe that he/she cares whether we live or whether we die, whether we believe in some fairy tale, written by men for men, or anything else. I hope there is an afterlife, but I'm not placing any bets on it. The people who just love "end times" must be real losers and weirdos in actual real life! Why people hope for the worst, is odd, but then again, people who suspend their intelligence (if they have any) to believe in man-made religiions are kinda stupid anyway–or delusional-or both!

    March 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • OkToGo77

      I don't think it's that they're "hoping for the worst". People who read Bible and genuinely do believe it are, in actuality, hoping for what is to come after.

      How can you say you "hope there is a God", and then in the same sentence say that you can't believe God cares whether we live or die? If that's what you really think, then why do you hope there is a God? For what purpose, then, if not to love each and every one of us and to want to have a personal relationship with each of us? I think it's hard for a lot of people to believe in God, because we can't possibly comprehend who and what He is as long as we inhabit these earthly bodies. But on the other side is promised nothing less than absolute gloriousness that is so much more wonderful than the most incredible places anyone can think of on this planet. For myself, I can't wait!

      March 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  16. dave_in_altmar

    Well, heck, that's understandable, as there is no such thing as "God".

    March 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      You do not exist.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • dave_in_altmar

      You replied so I do exist.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Careful, ppl answer the call of God all the time. Does that make God real?

      But no, you do not exist. Because you are a collection of different ppl using the same username on here. There is no singular "you" at all. But if you can prove otherwise, it should make for an interesting philisophical topic.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  17. J.

    Just because we don't know what happened before The Big Bang, does not mean there is a god. People have attributed their misunderstandings to a god's work since the dawn of humankind, and it's always proved wrong.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • NL

      Religion is like telling a child "just because" when you don't have the answer, and science is like the child growing up and finding the answer for himself. Being a child once was nice, but I like being a grown up now. 😉

      March 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • james

      The universe materializing spontaneously is certainly an amazing event, and I can't begin to understand how it just happened. However a supreme being capable of creating all these things materializing out of nowhere or existing forever to undertake this task strikes me as even more far fetched. Baffles me how people assume that if they can't explain how something unlikely occurred, they conclude that it must be something even more unlikely that caused it.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      One of the reassuring things belief in a higher power provides is that you will always have an answer for your currently unknown/unanswerable questions, regardless of what they are. Why does gravity exist? god! How did the universe form? god! Why are human beings such complex multicelled organisms? god! See, it's really for stupid people who need it to answer their questions. Either that or they were brainwashed at a young age, similar to how children in the KKK are brainwashed at a young age to hate people of other races, there is no difference in the brainwashing technique.

      This reinforcement of a belief in a higher power, able to answer all unknown/unexplainable questions, is a psychological need that some humans have, called Causal Determinism. For some, it's easier to attribute the complexities of the universe with a supernatural being that can do anything, it's very convenient, but rather unintelligent.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  18. woody

    We all want to believe that there might be life after death. The only part of your body that believes that is your brain. All you have to do is look at a mummy to know after death all your body does is dry up since we are mostly liquid. Your brain too only dries up. If you think you will see people in your after life. How are you going to know them if your body stays here. Religion is but a way to control people. And take advantage of the poor. Its your money . Go put it in the basket if you want to . Believe what you want ! I know when I die the only way I will live on is if someone remembers me. Today the only thing people remember is if you left them something. I will keep my money and travel the world. Instead of giving it to others within the church to travel on. I am well aware of people within the church taking their friends on trips with your dime ! Its all about money. We are mammals just like any other. This is it ! But it is up to you if you want to live in Oz !

    March 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • pothead

      You all know what I do with all my money...my next life I'm coming back as the best weed so I don't have to buy it. Smoke me baby!

      March 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Miller

      God loves us all and He sent His Son Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. This world is pretty messed up because of what we as people have done with it. We have incorporated cheat, lies, and fornication. But God is willing to wipe that all away. He has chosen all of us to do great deeds. No one is forgotten. Everyone is loved more than our imagination.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • steve

      Who said potheads were stupid or forget...give me a little toe pothead! Love it.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • james

      It's a convenient way to explain anything that can't be logically explained, and it helps to comfort people about death, so it does have more purpose than just controlling the masses, however it still baffles me how so many otherwise intelligent people can believe so much of it as absolute truth, despite the obvious inconsistencies.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Kay

      speaking of inconsistencies...
      where's evolution these days?
      seems like we're going downhill fast.
      aren't we supposed to be getting better?

      March 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • OkToGo77

      Well, one thing is for sure....each one of us will know the truth with absolute certainty immediately after we take our last breath. I also think there will be a lot of very surprised people – surprised to discover that this life on earth isn't all there is. I think there is so much more to come.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Kay- See, no offense but you are a prime example of the new faith. Evolution has no goal. Things do not get "better" because of evolution.

      See, there are just as many ppl out there that think they are superior because they do not believe in God or gods, but they put just as much faith in science and still don't know anything about their "faith" than the average Christian.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Karen

      I love this line "See, there are just as many ppl out there that think they are superior " obviously you do think you are superior or you wouldn't keep replying to so many posts.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Superior? No, bored perhaps. Though there are a precious few on here that actually have something interesting to say. Sadly, that wouldn't be you at the moment.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Karen

      "No, bored perhaps. Though there are a precious few on here that actually have something interesting to say. Sadly, that wouldn't be you at the moment."

      Yet, you continue to waste your time saying nothing too. What a ego maniac.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Thank you for adding evidence to my previous comment about you. Way to go 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Dakota

      "Thank you for adding evidence to my previous comment about you. Way to go" Yet, you keep replying too, so that makes you a hypocrite.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Not really Dakota, because my responses are not based on my ego as it is with you and the others on here. I know it's hard for you to understand so take a little time to dwell on it.

      March 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Interesting, when other people post things stating they don't believe in religion, and why, or asking for proof god exists, or stating they don't believe in god, you get very defensive, and state it is due to our ego. Ok, let's go that route, your ego is so primitive and less evolved that you have a need to believe in something that isn't real. Santa isn't real either, bro.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Lycidas

      You have just shown that you don't understand your own faith. There is no point in evolution. There is no such thing as an evolved ego, duh.

      What's this fixation on Santa you have?

      Ppl are more than welcome to believe in God or not. But none of your unbelievers have told me why you are on this thread. This thread has nothing to do with atheism, so forgive me if I treat you as the rude uninvited guests you are. You are no better than a person going on a thread about the science of the Big Bang and start yammering about God creating it all.

      March 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  19. DrMabuse

    OK, let's get this straight once and for all–there is no dog.

    Signed,
    A dyslexic atheist

    March 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  20. Eric

    Who are you?
    -Eric. Pretty sure I put my name up there.

    What do you want?
    -Cookies. Science has proven I have a disposition to eat cookies when offered the choice. It's Eric's theory.

    Why are you here?
    -To eat cookies? Kinda repeating myself here...

    Where are you going?
    -TO EAT COOKIES.

    Do have have anything worth living for?
    -Yes!

    Seriously though, God can't answer those questions for you any better than I can. Just because I build an ant farm and feed them and my sister sometimes comes in and shakes the place about or pours water on them doesn't mean those ants have any knowledge of my existence or that they know WHY I do anything. Maybe because I like watching them, they amuse me. Maybe I'm running some of my own scientific experiments. Maybe I'm cruel inside and like watching my sister tear the place up. Maybe only because my uncle buys lame birthday gifts. It would be preposterous for any ant to presume my will.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Absolutely love that anology, even though I don't agree with your point...but it does make one think. Thanks.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Actually it is a bad anology because you did not create the ants, the raw material, the time that weaves through there space, the gravity that effects both space and time....etc. Do I need to go on?

      March 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      When I originally asked the questions, I never said that God would give or not give you the answers. My overall point was that science cannot give one the answers. Eventually, one will have to delve into the unscientific to achieve the answers.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Spencer

      "Eventually, one will have to delve into the unscientific to achieve the answers." – Again, not a rational fact. What an idiot. Maybe you should stop thinking you know it all and stop using words your brain can't handle.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Spencer- you are so bitter. Maybe you can answer the questions I asked with facts so that a rational mind can comprehend it. It should be fun to read.

      Or you can go on whining and ranting because someone that has faith in something is making you rather childish and silly on here. The choice is yours of course...freewill and all that.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      @ Pathos with Ethos "Actually it is a bad anology because you did not create the ants, the raw material, the time that weaves through there space, he gravity that effects both space and time....etc. Do I need to go on?"

      Yes, actually, you do. It's sad that you feel the need to associate something supernatural to help you answer questions regarding the complexity of the universe that you do not yet understand.

      Why do less (mentally) evolved human beings create and believe in "god" and/or any "religion" ?

      1. Causal Determinism (some humans are hard wired to need answers)...to explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.

      2. Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.

      3. Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      The problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one.
      Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational answers.
      Some people are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.
      To alleviate this anxiety and fear, they believe and have faith in the supernatural to help them cope.
      There is no proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be, because it's all man made and not real.

      Once upon a time, it was necessary to have a god to be able to answer all the mysteries in the world. Science has eroded this need by discovering explanations for much of what humanity did not know at the time of "jesus", who never actually existed, the story of jesus is the same story told in other religions, tweaked to fit christianity, it isn't real. Of course, one would expect anyone, who has devoted their life to religion, to find reasons to believe in supernatural beings but they simply no longer fit. So, rationalizing is required to make them fit. And the emphasis is on faith because faith is the only way it does fit. But faith is nothing more that the ability to fool yourself into believing in the unbelievable. But much like children eventually understand that they were fooled by their parents into believing in Santa Clause, humanity is slowly growing out of the childlike phase of believing in supernatural beings. Imagine what it would be like not to have terrorism based on which religion you do or don't believe in. Imagine what it would be like if we did the humane and just things we should do, not because some big brother in the sky is looking over our shoulder but because it's simply the right thing to do. That is where the myriad versions of the golden rule come from – humans doing the right things because it's how they want themselves to be treated. This is why the number of atheists has been growing at a steady rate, and eventually there will not be a need for religion, because man will evolve out of this childlike phase completely.

      Because you don't have a better answer,

      March 25, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Way to go "Atheism is the only truth", you keep copy/pasting the same stuff over and over again. It really shows that you know absolutely nothing about what you are blabbering about. But hey, you can make assumptions and defend an anology where it is dependent upon a human being to create ants from nothing to make the anology actually work properly.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.